CLANs response to ABCs The Making of Modern Australia
On Thursday 22nd July, ABC's "The Making of Modern Australia", Episode 1 "The Australian Child" was about Australian childhood, and as part of this, it featured stories on the Stolen Generation and Child Migrants but nothing at all on us, the Forgotten Australians.
When asked the reason for this, the ABC's reply was that there wasn't time to cover all groups.
This meant that even when they showed footage of our Apology on November 16 last year, they had to imply that it was an Apology just to the Child Migrants.
In other words, not only have we once again been left out of the history of our country, but the national broadcaster, the ABC, distorted the truth about our history.
The Prime Minister acknowledged us last year, but the ABC
Click on the PDF link to read the responses to the documentary by CLAN co-founders Leonie Sheedy and Joanna Penglase.
ABC's Response to letters by Leonie and Joanna:
Thank you for your emails and message board posts regarding the episode of The Making of Modern Australia broadcast on 22 July.
I understand you believe this program misrepresented the apology to Forgotten Australians by inferring that it was directed only at child migrants.
It was certainly not the intention of the documentary producers to reduce or belittle the experience of Australian-born children who suffered at the hands of carers, and they have asked me to apologise on behalf of everyone associated with the series for any offence caused to you on this occasion.
The Making of Modern Australia presents personal stories combined with general archive and narration to weave a people's portrait of different themes in the nation's life since 1945. It cannot be and does not purport to be comprehensive. The first episode specifically followed the stories of two people who had tough childhoods due to government policies which were later subjects of national apologies. One, Donna Meehan, was an Aboriginal woman removed from her family, and the other, Rose Kruger, was a British migrant raised in a Catholic orphanage.
There is, as you know too well, a very important and large third category of children mistreated by the government who were neither immigrants nor Indigenous but Australian-born and either orphans or from families that were considered unable to look after them. While the documentary producers were aware of this category of children, they considered that having included two stories of children mistreated by the state (in different ways) it would have been repetitive to have included a third Australian orphan character who was mistreated in a way similar to unaccompanied immigrant children. They intended no disrespect or offence. They made the decision on story and character balance grounds.
As much as possible, when the series recounts national events, it does so through the characters' stories. For this reason, the part of the first episode featuring the apologies to the Stolen Generations and the Forgotten Australians focused on the experiences of Ms Meehan and Ms Kruger. For your reference, below is a transcript of this part of the program:
NARRATOR: The consequences of Donna's childhood were finally acknowledged in February 2008.
We acknowledge that the program did not explicitly state that the apology to Forgotten Australians was directed at all children raised in institutions, orphanages and foster care in the twentieth century. However, the program did not state that the apology was only directed at child migrants, and on review, we do not believe that any such inference was made, as you suggest. The narrator's description of the event used broad terms, stating that the Australian Government "acknowledged another of the cruelties inflicted on children after the Second World War", and the archival material featuring former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and a reporter did not identify precisely who the apology was directed at. On review of this part of the program, we are satisfied that it adhered to the ABC’s editorial standard for accuracy.
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